Our Fathers, Who Art in Heaven.
It was a few days ago now that I made the delivery. New York was the return address. It was a funeral home in New York. I knocked and waited. No answer. My niece lived on my route and in a strange coincidence I thought I was delivering the urn which held her father’s ashes. I really didn’t want to leave it there all alone and in a corner on the doorstep. Yet, a few days earlier she explained to me why there was to be no funeral. “He was a loner,” she said. So, as I set down the package I thought “he will simply be alone until she returns. He will be in his element.” It turned out that it was the last of his things from the funeral home, not the urn itself. I e-mailed her to make sure she got it. I expressed my sadness and she hers.
Then I visited Splittergewitter and she posted a beautiful tribute to her father. An honor expressed with depth and clarity. It emoted strong and soft like an exchange that would take place between a father and daughter. When she slipped behind his eyes to the dance beyond time, it was a bitter sweet connection that hung in the air and she harvested a poem some time later. (As Luci Shaw would say)
Last night at dinner with some friends, he explained to me his disconnect when his father passed away. Three days before his father died my friend said he was invited to pray with his dad and grandfather. The thing was that both of them were obstinate toward God and any idea of God. So when the grandfather said that it couldn’t hurt, hands were held and a passionate prayer for new birth was ensued. The prayer itself sounded like labor pains to me. In the end his father made peace with the God who exists. The disconnect came when days later he was the one appointed to collect the urn. One day he was praying and talking to his father and then a box was pushed toward him. He explained to me how he felt that this situation was not resolved. I understood that it would have been so different if he had seen the body laying still and at peace. There was no funeral.
We talked a while about the “father factor” everyone experiences. How we as fathers wanted to be more present in our children’s lives. How we wanted to break any unhealthy strings that were attached with our relationships with our fathers. It reminded me of an old e-mail I sent to my sister years ago.
Saturday June 3rd 2000
Last weekend I realized I hadn’t been to see Dad’s marker since the graveside service. So I called my three brothers and asked them to meet me there at sunrise on Memorial Day to remember Dad. I got there early to have some time to reflect and lay some flowers down. The funny thing was that it took me ten minutes to find his spot…to find him. Then when I did tears came like a dike had just burst. I hadn’t expected that. “It was just like when he was alive…I had to go looking for him,” I whispered. Then the translation to my spiritual life was more understandable. Issues of my doubting God came to surface. Lies were uttered, “You have to go looking for God all the time too. He even tells you to do it like some cosmic game of hide and seek. When does He ever come looking for you? (Believe me, I’ve found some pretty good spots to hide.) It seems God’s still at the tree, arms crossed, counting to infinity as only He can.” Then truth chimed in with Psalm 139 and other scant passages I stored for the Spirit to recall. Not to mention the sun that was starting its daily journey. The smell was fresh of the flowers and the colors that brushed my senses. Then my brothers showed up. We talked, cried, and I read some journal entries from around the time of Dad’s death and then read “his” poem. We prayed the Lord’s Prayer and then I thanked the boys for joining me in my therapy session.
There are some arms of Christendom today that are promoting a gender neutral Bible. Technically God is gender neutral. Maybe a better way of putting it is bi-gender. God encompasses femininity and masculinity, He created us male and female after all and we are God’s image. But for me personally, I need God to be my father. I need to know that God can pursue and protect and be strong in a “man” way sometimes. Forgive me please, ladies. I need my Dad. I need my Abba. I figure I need a father maybe because of the absence of my own. When I am in a swirl of dad deaths a father’s arm around my shoulder is what I long for.
Visit Splittergewitter on my blog list(in profile) to read her poem White Spaces